Warning: So many spoilers ahead for Stranger Things!
At long last, Stranger Things season three has hit our small screens and we've been reunited with beloved characters like Eleven. But, because the folks in Hawkins, IN, can't seem to catch a break or enjoy a normal Summer holiday, otherworldly villains continue to terrorize the characters — and the Mind Flayer just might be the most menacing one yet. This terrifying, extremely gooey demon definitely has an agenda, but what exactly does he want?
In the most general of terms, the Mind Flayer is after power and control just like every other villain the characters have encountered. But, although plenty of characters are collateral damage, the one person he's really after is Eleven. As Billy explains to her, everything this creature does is motivated by his desire to destroy everything close to her because the Upside Down can't be stopped unless Eleven becomes part of it. The Mind Flayer knows that his only shot at defeating Eleven is if he builds a large enough army to become stronger than the show's badass protagonist.
So to achieve this goal, the Mind Flayer amasses both humans and animals and possesses them; those who are possessed are referred to as "the Flayed." By doing this, his size and power increase rapidly. Billy, who is the first character to become one of the Flayed, also explains that the monster's goal is to "build" and that he's been tasked with finding "recruits."
But it's important to note that the Mind Flayer isn't recruiting an army — rather, he wants as many recruits as possible because he absorbs them in order to increase his own size and level of strength. Following the monster's orders, Billy kidnaps Heather and her parents and they too are Flayed. As the season continues, more and more members of the community are Flayed and the Mind Flayer becomes larger, scarier, and grosser at a rapid pace.
In the series finale, Eleven has a brutal showdown with the Mind Flayer, and it's revealed that she loses her powers in the aftermath. So does this mean the Mind Flayer was victorious? Not so fast! As we know from past seasons, Eleven's powers are closely linked with her emotions — and she's understandably exhausted and traumatized after her battle with the Mind Flayer. This is by far the strongest, scariest villain she's faced, and let's not forget she also had to take on the Russian guards during the battle. Plus, the demon vowed to kill her friends, and she lost Hopper, a parental figure who provided her with the most stable life she'd ever known.
The Mind Flayer isn't done, but neither is Eleven — and I'm willing to bet she'll regain her powers over time and emerge victorious once again. We'll just have to wait for season four to see how it all plays out.